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Report: Nick Van Exel Interviews for Cincinnati HC Job After John Brannen Firing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2021

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cincinnati interviewed former Bearcats star Nick Van Exel as part of its search for a new men's basketball coach, according to Keith Jenkins of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The school fired John Brannen on Friday after placing him on administrative leave while it looked into why six players entered the transfer portal shortly after the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

Van Exel spent two seasons at Cincinnati before embarking on a 13-year NBA career. In retirement, the 1997-98 All-Star began building his coaching resume.

Having worked as a player development instructor for the Atlanta Hawks, he joined the Milwaukee Bucks' staff for the 2013-14 season and then moved on to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League. He was the Legends head coach in 2015-16 when they finished 23-27.

Van Exel's most recent gig saw him work as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies for three seasons.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in April 2019 the 49-year-old was interested in succeeding Mick Cronin as Cincinnati's head coach, with the Bearcats opting instead for Brannen.

Because of his experience as a player with the program, Cincinnati probably wouldn't have to sell the fanbase on Van Exel too much. However, Jenkins reported the university also interviewed Erik Martin, an assistant coach at West Virginia who was also college teammates with Van Exel.

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According to Jenkins, UCLA associate head coach Darren Savino could be in the mix as well but reportedly has yet to formally interview. While Savino didn't suit up for the Bearcats, he was the team's associate head coach for nine years under Cronin.

A Kentucky native who also coached at Northern Kentucky, Brannen knew the region but didn't have firm ties to Cincinnati prior to leading the Bearcats. It appears school administrators want to stay within the family in identifying his replacement.